Two of Indiana's top backcourt players have made their college decisions known. Highly regarded Penn guard Kelsey Reynolds will head east to join the roster at ACC stalwart Boston College. Ben Davis star Alex Bentley, who wowed the exposure circuit all summer, gives second-year PSU head coach Coquette Washington a huge shot in the arm with a verbal to the rebuilding Nittany Lions program. And Purdue gets an early commitment from rising sophomore star Torrie Thornton of Carmel.
REYNOLDS PICKS BC
Penn's Kelsey Reynolds, a North Junior All-Star, is perhaps one of the state's most overlooked top-tier players. You don't hear her name thrown around much on the RRR boards when the talk of 2009 All-Stars and Miss Basketball is discussed, but that didn't stop some of the top programs in the country from offering the 5'9 point guard a place on their rosters next season. With junior season stats of 19.0 points (52% fg, 45% 3pt), 5.3 assists, 5.2 rebounds and 2.7 steals per game for a highly respected 18-4 team, it is no wonder she landed on the radar of schools in some of the toughest conferences in the country. Iowa, Auburn, Virginia Tech and Illinois lost out on Reynolds' services next season, as the workhorse guard gave the nod to Boston College head coach Sylvia Crawley.
"Kelsey is going to be a great addition to the Boston College program. They have a young, energetic staff that will allow her to showcase her abilities," says second-year Penn head coach Mike Starrett. "When you have schools from the Big Ten, the SEC and the ACC looking at you to come to their programs, I think it says an awful lot about the talent and work ethic that Kelsey has."
Along with Junior All-Star honors, Reynolds was an ICGSA All-State Second Team selection, a First Team All-Northern Indiana Conference honoree in 2008 and shared Co-MVP team honors with 6'2 Florida recruit Lily Svete. As of this time, Reynolds is undecided on a course of study, but she chose BC because of its great academic reputation, as well as the overall feel she had with the coaching staff and players, says Starrett. Known as a hard-nosed and gutsy competitor, Reynolds should fit in well with the tough play in the Atlantic Coast Conference, which includes national powers Duke, Maryland and North Carolina. BC loses three senior guards to graduation after this season, giving Reynolds the opportunity to be a contributor early on in her college career.
As for the upcoming season, Reynolds is focused in on making her final high school outing a memorable one.
"This year we are going to have a solid team that has the opportunity to do great things on the court. Our team has the ability to compete with the best teams in the state," says Reynolds. "The goals for this year are to take my game to the next level, advance in the tournament, learn from every experience and have fun."
The Kings(wo)men were ranked No. 4 in 4A at the end of last season, but fell to 4A runner-up South Bend Washington in the second round of sectional play. Penn will have to get past the Panthers again if they want to advance, but they certainly have a strong base in Reynolds and Svete to give SBW a run for their money.
"We will certainly have two big holes to fill next year," says Starrett, "but we are going to enjoy this year and hopefully it ends with a deep run in the tournament for Penn and two all-state selections in Lily Svete and Kelsey Reynolds."
BENTLEY TO JOIN THE NITTANY LIONS
Ben Davis guard Alex Bentley has been making a name for herself ever since she was denied a shot at a state title last February as the leader of last year's 4A No. 1 Giants. She displayed her awesome offensive abilities in the early spring exposure events and then took it to the 2008 All-Stars, laying out a stat line of 27 points, 7 rebounds, 5 steals and 4 assists in just 24 minutes of play in the first exhibition game. The "guard-on-a-mission" hasn't looked back since, impressing everyone at every turn of the summer exposure circuit with giant play for her 5'6 size.
Bentley drew a boatload of interest from top programs throughout the summer and then narrowed her list to Purdue, North Carolina, Texas, South Carolina and Penn State earlier this month. She took an official visit to Penn State the weekend of the 6th, and then dropped Purdue and South Carolina from her list of possible choices two weeks ago.
"It felt like the right fit," says Bentley.
She should know. The savvy guard has been extremely diligent and reflective during the recruiting process. With a good amount of attention coming her way late in the process, she had to be a quick study.
"I know Alex has put a lot of effort and thought in picking her college," says Ben Davis head coach Stan Benge. "She is very happy that the process is over and looking forward to contributing to Penn State's basketball success in the future. Penn State has a good coaching staff and are trying to take their program to the next level. Alex will help them get there."
Former Notre Dame great Coquese Washington is a rising star in the college coaching ranks and she knocked one out of the park in landing Bentley's verbal, together with the verbal of nationally-ranked 6'5 center Nikki Green, on the same banner day for the Nittany Lions program. Bentley is ranked as the #17 guard in the country by Hoopgurlz.com.
As a junior, Bentley averaged 15.1 points (50.6% fg), 3.7 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 2.6 steals on a loaded Ben Davis team. The Giants were ranked #1 in the state for the last three weeks of the regular season, compiling a 24-1 record before a disappointing 11-point loss to eventual 4A State Champ Carmel in the regional opener.
During her high school career, Bentley was named to the 2008 All Metro Team, the Indiana Junior All Star Core Team, AP All State, All Marion County, and All-MIC in 2006, 2007 and 2008. She will join former South Bend Washington standout Emily Phillips on the Nittany Lions roster next season.
CARMEL'S THORNTON COMMITS EARLY TO PURDUE
Purdue head coach Sharon Versyp has been robbing the cradle of Indiana prep talent as of late. The most recent baby to join the black and gold fold is sophomore Torrie Thornton of Carmel. According to the Journal & Courier, Versyp began recruiting Thornton as an eighth grader.
With just one season of high school ball behind her, Thornton is nonetheless a strong pick for the Boilermakers. As a 6'1 forward, the lefty averaged 7.1 points, 5.4 rebounds and 2.6 steals per game for the 4A State Champs last season and has the potential to become a defining force for the Greyhounds in the coming years. She is quick and agile, and has a knack for the game that simply can't be taught. That knack is in the Thornton genes, as brother Brian plays at Xavier, and older sister Melanie Thornton plays at Butler.
Thornton is the first commit from the Indiana Class of 2011 and becomes the second early commit for Purdue in the past year. Junior Ben Davis forward Dee Dee Williams gave a verbal to Versyp in July.